March 16, 2016

Water and public safety projects get the axe as Gov.’s vetoes continue to sting

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Last week, Gov. Susana Martinez nixed over $8 million in capital outlay spending, meaning there’s now $8 million less being pumped into New Mexico’s economy than there otherwise could be. And some counties will feel the pain harder than others.

Most of the projects vetoed by Martinez were projects sponsored by Democrats or co-sponsored by high profile Democrats.

Only 9%, or 14 projects total, that went under the knife were sponsored by Republican lawmakers.

New Mexico is a large state geographically (5th largest in the U.S.) and although high density populations are centered in some cities, outlying communities near cities were seriously undercut by the governor’s vetoes this year.

Nearly half ($3,532,212) of the overall vetoed funding was intended for counties surrounding large metropolitan areas, (Bernalillo, Valencia, Doña Ana, and Santa Fe). More sparsely populated counties certainly lost important projects as well (check out this story from NM Political Report for some of the biggest single losses in this year’s veto cycle).

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Bernalillo:

Of the many projects in the state’s most populated county, some of the most critical centered around water safety and availability. Funding for the second phase of the Carnuel Water Systems Improvement Project, a critical water infrastructure project for the eastern populace of Albuquerque, was vetoed despite sponsorship from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. The project is intended to add a backup water line for an area currently only served by one reservoir, which taxes drinking water and fire emergency services alike. Another reservoir pump station in Bernalillo County was also vetoed.

In the wake of catastrophic failures regarding water safety in Michigan it’s curious the governor would nix such important projects that serve the largest metro area in the state.

Other projects of note that were vetoed were a planned Civil Justice Center and a multipurpose center for low-income women in Bernalillo County. Having a centralized location for people of lesser means to try and improve themselves doesn’t seem to be high on the governor’s to-do list.

In case you missed it, check out how Gov. Martinez OK’d $1,000,000 for new gun ranges while axing a detox/homeless shelter in Gallup (a community that really needs it).

Doña Ana:

Doña Ana County is home to nearly 200,000 people, about half of which don’t live within the city limits of a major municipality. Safety issues and response times of emergency services are continually an issue for residents around the county.

But that didn’t stop the governor from vetoing bills that would have helped build a new substation for the County Sheriff’s department in Chaparral. Residents of the isolated community have complained to county and state officials for years about a lack of safety due to the time and distance it takes deputies to respond from elsewhere in the county.

Other safety concerns that went unfunded were renovations to the fire station in Anthony, sidewalk improvements in La Union, and street lighting improvements in Sunland Park. Once again residents in these outlaying communities get the short end of the stick because of the governor’s political “messages” to democratic lawmakers.